Sharon ready to talk under fire

  • From: "Muslim News" <editor@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <submit@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sat, 9 Mar 2002 10:21:44 -0000

 Damage inflicted by Israeli helicopters at Jebalya refugee camp

Friday saw widespread death and destruction

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has said that he will hold talks
with the Palestinians even if hostilities continue. 
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He made the move after more than 40 people died in violence on Friday,
the worst single day in 17 months of the Palestinian uprising, or


I thought we could reach a period of respite before a ceasefire - but
this is a war situation we are experiencing 

Ariel Sharon 
Israeli helicopter gunships raided Palestinian security targets on
Saturday in the West Bank town of Nablus and in Khan Younis, in the
southern Gaza Strip. 

And Israeli military sources said more than 400 Palestinians, including
about 60 members of the security services, were detained by the army in
the West Bank refugee camp of Tulkarm. 

Previously, Mr Sharon has insisted that there must be seven days of calm
before talks could take place. 

But a BBC correspondent in Jerusalem says the Palestinians will be
sceptical, thinking that Mr Sharon is just playing for time before the
US special envoy, Anthony Zinni, arrives in the region next week. 

06.stm#map> here for map of Gaza Strip and West Bank 

A senior aide to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat said that Mr Sharon's
offer had "no value". 

"He must stop his massacres and aggression against the Palestinian
people," said Nabil Adu Rudeina. 

US concern 

Washington has called for an end to Israeli military strikes. 

 General Anthony Zinni

Zinni's forthcoming visit is focusing US minds on the Middle East

"It's important for the Israelis to think hard about their policies,
think through the consequences of things like going into heavily
populated areas with heavy military force," said US State Department
spokesman Richard Boucher. 

The American pressure comes as Vice President Dick Cheney prepares for a
Middle East tour, starting on Sunday. 

The BBC Washington correspondent says many Middle East countries would
like to see the US trying more actively to promote dialogue between
Israel and the Palestinians. 

Arab League foreign ministers are meeting in Cairo on Saturday to
discuss Saudi proposals, which envisage the Arab world normalising its
relations with Israel, in return for a full Israeli withdrawal from the
occupied territories. 

Bloodiest day 

In Friday's violence: 

*       A Palestinian gunman armed with an assault rifle and grenades
infiltrated the Atzmona settlement in the Gaza Strip and killed five
Israeli students before being shot dead by Israeli soldiers 

*       Israeli forces launched major ground and air attacks across the
territories, with almost 40 Palestinians reported killed 

*       Among the Palestinian dead was Major General Ahmed Mefraj, the
deputy commander in Gaza and most senior Palestinian to be killed since
the start of the intifada 

*       Israeli police shot dead a suspected would-be suicide bomber in
northern Jerusalem. 



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